Flooding from a burst pipe at The Residence in Mission (TRIM) caused the second floor ceiling to collapse last Sunday, Jan. 2, causing extensive damage.
Residents of the second floor have been relocated to different parts of the building, and damage to the kitchen - which also provides food for Mission Memorial Hospital (MMH) - is disrupting food service, according to Parveen Gill, chair of the Fraser Valley region for the BC Nurses’ Union (BCNU).
Gill said the building has had numerous issues with its water lines since it was opened, and the union’s biggest concerns are remediation efforts and ensuring leaks don’t continue in the future.
“Our understanding is it’s happened one too many times, and so there needs to be long term plans put in place,” Gill said.
The three-storey TRIM building was opened in 2014 and replaced MMH’s extended health unit. The second and third floor house patients who require complex care. It is owned and operated by Fraser Health.
Gill said that last year, there was an internal water leak that ruptured, and in 2018, an external water line ruptured and flooded residents’ bathrooms along with nearby streets.
She said fixing the damage in those instances took a number of months, and hopes it won’t take that long, but admits the current damage seems much worse.
When the roof collapsed, debris fell on a nurse and resident, and flooding soaked many people in the building, Gill said.
Residents with behavioural issues in a special care unit on the second floor have now been moved in with other residents, which is dangerous, said Linda Pipe, the former BCNU chair of the Fraser Valley region.
“I’ve heard from staff saying that there was over a foot of water on the main floor,” Pipe said, along with claims of “millions of dollars of damage.”
Pipe said that staff are frustrated because it’s supposed to be a new building, and yet damage keeps occurring.
“They want to know why,” she said. “You have to sort of wonder about construction … This isn’t the first time the ceilings have collapsed.”
A Fraser Health spokesperson said that all residents are safe, including a total of 23 residents whose homes have been affected by water damage.
“All residents who live in rooms that were directly impacted by water damage are being cared for in alternate locations while we determine the extent of the water damage and our remediation plans,” A Fraser Health spokesperson said by email.
“Meals continue to be provided to all residents.”
The Record was contacted by several people concerned that not only TRIM, but every patient at MMH were being served cold meals due to the damage to TRIM’s kitchen.
Melissa Manke has a 70-year-old friend currently at MMH. She said the patients are being served cold inadequate meals.
“The food situation is horrible, like cold little plain sandwiches with a little bit of meat on them … and maybe one slice of toast in the morning,” she said. “There should be a plan in place.”
The impact to food services is causing the hospital work environment to become strained between doctors and Fraser Health staff, according to Dr. Andy Edelson, a former doctor at MMH and local healthcare advocate/
“It’s awful. I’m told,” Edelson said. “(Fraser Health’s) reaction has been less than ideal … I feel like we should be doing better.
“Order in warm food at least.”
A temporary kitchen is now in place supplying hot meals to TRIM residents and MMH patients, according to a Jan. 12 email from a Fraser Health spokesperson, who added there are limitations due supply chain issues.
The BCNU and Fraser Health are working closely together, Gill said, adding that Fraser Health representatives and Mission firefighters were on site “pretty quickly” after the BCNU occupational health and safety employees reached out to them.
Nurses are now having to work extended shifts, doubling their hours and working through breaks to manage the situation, according to Gill.
She said patients being mismatched, served cold meals and forced from their home residences is a huge challenge for nurses who are already understaffed, especially during COVID.
“We’re already in the middle of a significant healthcare staffing crisis, and then you add a waterline leak to this and then the re-shifting and re-allocation of services,” Gill said. “Is it optimal? Absolutely not.”
Fraser Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak at the TRIM building on Jan. 4, affecting six residents and four staff members across two units.
Their spokesperson said they are committed to informing residents and their families in the coming days “as we determine next steps in restoration of the facility, including the expected timeline for renovations to be complete.”
Repair crews are currently finishing removing all the damaged structures, but the scope of the damage and timelines are still being assessed, said the spokesperson by email on Jan. 12.